Five candidates vying for three seats while referendum outcome looms
Grafton School District voters who will decide the outcome of a $39.9 million referendum in the Tuesday, April 4, election will also elect three School Board members.
Competing for the School Board seats are incumbent Paul Lorge, a member of the board since 2002, and challengers Carrie Walls, Jerry Rossi, Steve Nauta and John Meinecke.
Shawn Viesselmann’s name will also be on the ballot but he said he will not accept the office if elected because of work obligations.
Incumbents Dan McKelvey and Clayton Riddle are not seeking re-election.
Lorge said being the father of four children who graduated from Grafton High School has prepared him well for serving on the board.
He said he supports the $39.9 million school district referendum, noting that the plan to demolish Grafton Elementary School and consolidate students and teachers at the district’s other two elementary schools would reduce operating costs.
Walls, a former School Board member, said she believes last April’s failed referendum and the condition of the schools have contributed to a loss of students through open enrollment.
She said one of her priorities is expanding the science curriculum at John Long Middle School to help prepare students for high school.
Walls said her previous career as a pediatric physical therapist has made her an advocate for improving classroom accommodations and accessibility to school buildings for students with special needs.
“I’m very happy to see the referendum is addressing special education needs,” she said. “I think it will allow all students to be served in the schools.”
Rossi said that although the School District is currently in good shape it’s critical that the referendum is approved.
He said he wants to be involved with the transition when reassigning teachers and students from Grafton Elementary School to either Woodview or Kennedy elementary schools.
Rossi was a citizen member on the hiring committee for Supt. Jeff Nelson.
Nauta, a lifelong Grafton resident and 1991 graduate of Grafton High School, said his decision to run for the School Board was motivated by his desire to give back to the community. He previously coached basketball at Grafton High School for 15 years.
He was also a member of the advisory committee responsible for helping draft the referendum on next week’s ballot. He said he worked to find ways to improve the plan that would be supported by the community.
Meinecke said his decision to run for the board was triggered last November when the eighth grade class at John Long Middle School tested below the state average in math.
The biggest issue surrounding the board’s election isn’t the referendum but rather enabling teachers to work to the best of their abilities to improve the comprehension of the students, he said.
Meinecke said if he is elected to the board he will be an advocate for the teachers, adding he wants to improve the district’s employee handbook by better aligning it with federal guidelines. He also said the district has outsourced all of its maintenance workers and he wants to retain at least one employee on the maintenance staff in case of an emergency.
School Board members are elected to serve a three-year term.